The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
but a man of understanding will draw it out.
True hospitality recognizes the needs of the guest and lovingly nurtures these needs. Often, I only recognize this type of hospitality after I have received it. In fact, I often do not recognize the need that I brought with me until after it is nurtured by my host. How can I cultivate this type of nurturing as I extend hospitality to others?
Hospitality is a condition of the heart and not the home. It is a ministry of being fully present to my guest and to the Holy Spirit. Distractions prevent me from being fully present. They prevent me from understanding and from encountering the deep waters of the heart.
I might be distracted by a long to-do list, by a show on television or the pinging of my phone. Hospitality calls me to lay aside these distractions and give my full attention to my guest, to intentionally consider my guest more important than my own list, to turn off the television, to silence my phone.
Hospitality nurtures physical needs. A place to sit, a glass of cold water, or a cup of hot tea may be what is required to meet these needs. Until the immediate physical needs are satisfied the deeper waters of relational and spiritual needs remain inaccessible.
Hospitality nurtures relational needs. I have a friend who follows the greeting “How are you?” with the sincere question, “Really, how are you?” Then, he listens. It is amazing what happens when someone truly listens. Simply listens. Without giving advice. Without trying to fix. Indeed, the person of understanding draws out the concerns of our hearts.
Hospitality nurtures spiritual needs. The person of understanding also knows the need for the quiet place where the Holy Spirit nurtures the deep places. True hospitality offers a place of peace where silence or tears or even the cries of lament and grief are welcomed.
Points to Ponder:
1. Consider at time when someone was fully present to you. How did this nurture your needs?
2. What distractions prevent you from being fully present to others? How might you eliminate these distractions?
3. What is the most difficult part of nurturing the needs of others? How might you pray for strength in this area?